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A couple of weeks back I wrote about a possible upcoming food crisis, and what it could mean for aid logistics. This made me finally pick up HPN‘s latest Good Practice Review, Emergency food security interventions, by Daniel Maxwell et al, which has been waiting on my to-read stack for some weeks. My friends, I was shocked — shocked, I say! (Add appropriate TV preacher’s voice here.)

When we talk about large-scale aid logistics, WFP is the obvious role model: no other aid agency moves such large amounts of goods over such long distances. (Whether or not this is a good idea in the first place is debatable, and will be debated in a future posting — but what is clear that at this stage WFP is doing it). Now why would the World Food Programme, from all other UN and other aid agencies, be the one with the largest logistics capacity?

Very simple: because (and read this well, Messrs Maxwell et al): good logistics is essential for food aid! Food aid (perhaps with the exception of cash transfers) needs good logistics like medical aid needs medical infrastructure.

So why, you may well ask, why this sermon? Why all this bold font? What, my dear Michael,  is the cause of your outrage? Well, believe it or not, but Maxwell et al managed to write a 147-page guide on emergency food aid… including a half-page on logistics. That is right, they spend about 0.3% of their (otherwise admirable) review on it. Now does that seem right to you?

(Photo: EU food aid, courtesy of Rock Cohen. Some rights reserved.)


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